Monday, July 13, 2009

Is This Heaven? No, It's Iowa. Be Prepared to Be Tested!

I can't remember a better spring/summer in our part of Iowa. Many years winter lingers on and on. The calendar tells you it is "spring" but then comes another snow or another ice storm or a late frost that kills the budding plants. Or perhaps spring comes at the right time but lasts mere days before the hot, humid, muggy days begin. Or spring begins with rain, rain and more rain over such a long period the farmers have difficulty getting their crops planted. Crops freeze. Crops drown. Crops are late. Winds blow. Storms brew. Tornado warnings appear on the weather channel. Spring is always an "iffy" proposition.

This year has been unusual. In our part of Iowa we've had a surprisingly long period of mild, sunny days. The fields were planted on time. A possible dry spell was alleviated by adequate rains. You wouldn't believe the crops in the fields! An old expression (and I mean "really old") in regards to corn was "Knee high by the Fourth of July"! But with today's hybrid seed corn and with this year's near-perfect weather we've seen corn tasseling just days after the Fourth. The fields are a lush green.

Perhaps if every day and every season were perfect, we would become oblivious to the beauty of this spring and thereby lose the enjoyment and fail to experience gratefulness. It is the knowledge of those "less than perfect" springs that makes this spring and summer so appreciated.

I think it is that way in our personal lives as well. If all is well all the time in all things we might risk acquiring an "entitlement" to all things good and an inability to endure the bad things that happen in life.

In James 1:2-4 the writer advises us to "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God puts us through stresses and troubles and predicaments and by so doing, He strengthens our faith. There is no promise in the Bible that the life of believers will be a rose garden. The disciples themselves endured persecution, tribulation, beatings, stonings, stabbings and death. (And I remind you that there are Christians in other parts of the world who still experience those things! There are countries where a Christian risks death to become a follower of Christ.) God does not provide a promise to Christians that they will live a life of ease. Nor does God promise that we as His people will never have to suffer the ailments and disease that all of mankind suffers. Regardless of the false promises of the "name it and claim it" movement, that just simply is not so. We live in a world broken by sin. We are not immune to that brokenness.

There will be times of blessings. There will be times of hardship and trouble. And while we rejoice in the blessings of life, we also learn to bow down in humble submission during the bad times, knowing that God is sovereign, that He rules over all things, that His purpose will be done. And this is His purpose...that He will save a people for Himself. And in so doing, He will be glorified above all!

Let me conclude with Romans 5:3-6 where Paul writes, "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."


Dorothy said...

Amen! I couldn't agree more...and I needed the reminder today too!

HisFireFly said...

All I can add is AMEN!

blushing rose said...

Perfect! Amen! TTFN ~ Marydon

Debra said...

I really needed the reminder, as I was very grumpy when our alcoholic neighbor played his 'music' loud enough to be heard for miles. I was not happy. I was thinking of ways I could get even!! Can you believe it-I even pictured threatening him with a gun!! I'm being honest here-I was pretty upset...And above all that racket, I could hear this small voice, and feel a comfort in my mind that I know was God. He helped me ignore it. I started being thankful, and listing all my 'thankfuls.'
You know what? I didn't even hear the noise-I was just having a blast picking red raspberries, and enjoying the gorgeous color of them, and the smell. Our God is very mighty. I am thankful.
Love, Debra

Laurie M. said...

Great post. Paul and I were talking along similar lines at the breakfast table this morning. Thanks for the words of encouragement.